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April Bat Update
Diane Wood, Wildlife Correspondent
Putting up Bat Boxes in Rodley, Leeds. Photo by Diane Wood
At this time of year, as it warms up, bats are becoming more active. They have now come out of hibernation and will be on the move, feeding and moving between different roost sites; but if the temperatures drop they will go back into torpor and become inactive again.

Their increasing activity has given me more to do as a bat volunteer worker………

Voluntary Bat Roost Visits

The role of a Natural England voluntary bat roost visitor involves visiting bat roosts in domestic properties, churches and some public buildings on behalf of Natural England. The visits are at the request of the property occupier, and made for various reasons.

My first voluntary bat roost visit of 2019 was to a domestic property where bats had been roosting in a chimney the previous year. The homeowners needed advice as a member of the family was afraid of bats.

The second roost visit was to a house where bats had been found by roofing contractors while replacing the roof. This can occasionally happen even when bat surveys have been undertaken as they should be - before the contractors start the re-roofing. In this instance the landlord, who has numerous properties re-roofed every year, had never commissioned any bat surveys and I had to report it.

The contractors covered up the bats they had found and left them alone. When I arrived the following morning, they had flown away overnight due to the disturbance.

West Yorkshire Bat Group

Canal and River Trust Land at Rodley, Leeds

In 2016, as a member of the bat group, I collaborated with the Canal and River Trust (CRT) with a view to how habitats and bridges owned by CRT could be improved and enhanced for the conservation of bats. We focussed on a stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal between Wyther Lane and Apperley Bridge that contained thirteen CRT owned bridges and two parcels of unmanaged land in Rodley.

Volunteers did bat surveys of the bridges and found two of the bridges had suitable gaps and crevices that bats could roost in, one of which was then confirmed to have common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus bats roosting in it.

Also by Diane Wood...
All Things Amphibian……
Spring Migration
Early Birds…..
Preparing For The Water Voles
A Look At Bats In Winter
I assessed the plant species in the parcels of unmanaged land, one of which was grassland and the other woodland and then the land parcels were surveyed for levels of bat activity, which means feeding, commuting and social behaviour of bats outside of their roosts.

I then put a plan together to manage these areas, hopefully to improve the habitats in the land parcels and provide more opportunities for bats to feed and roost in.

Diane Rollin of CRT obtained a grant from a Tesco bag for life scheme and bought some bat and bird boxes to put up in the Rodley land. To kick off the practical habitat improvement work, we spent a long day putting up the bat boxes and will be going back to check for signs they have been used in late autumn.

If you are thinking about putting up a bat box yourself, check out the Bat Conservation Trust’s “Bat Box Information Pack” available at: https://cdn.bats.org.uk/pdf/Bat-Box-Information-Pack.pdf?mtime=20181101151309

April Bat Update, 15th April 2019, 14:15 PM